Book Review: New Directions in Sex Therapy: Innovations and Alternatives

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Publication Date: 
Thu, 2013-10-31

7. Offer multiple options to clients. They may choose to just do what works to enable erections, penetration, or orgasms, and we should honour that choice if so, but if we offer other alternatives alongside this they may choose, for example, to deepen their relationship, to transform their thinking about sex, or to address their lives more widely.

8. Aim higher than returning clients to adequate sexual functioning and work with them toward “sex worth wanting” though being vulnerable and authentic, and through tuning into their bodies and their engagement with others.

I agree with the contributors to this book that it behoves all practitioners who are engaged with sex (therapists, educators, health professionals, etc.) to look deeply into their own assumptions about sex, and to look critically outwards to the cultural messages around them. It simply is not enough to offer approaches that reproduce and reinforce problematic assumptions about what constitutes sex and sexual problems. We need to aim higher with our clients, and we need to work toward shifting the social norms and roles that maintain their suffering. I hope that this collection will encourage practitioners to critically consider the assumptions and practices that they may be taking for granted, and to start out in a new alternative direction that is truly transformative.

Meg Barker, Ph.D., is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the Open University, UK, sex and relationship therapist, and author of the book Rewriting the Rules.